Photo courtesy of our COO partner, HomeSight.
Being housed, healthy, employed, and connected to one's community are basic human needs. Yet from neighborhood to neighborhood, access to these essentials vary widely. Race, income, and zip code are major predictors of how healthy we are and even how long we will live.
Communities of Opportunity is dedicated to overturning these disparities and creating a vibrant, equitable King County where everyone thrives regardless of race or place.
Through an extensive community-led planning process, we defined four results we are aiming to achieve:
- Quality affordable housing for all—Preservation and development of affordable housing that is in close proximity to transit, jobs, and education.
- The right to be healthy—Access to healthy, affordable food and safe places outside to be physically active, especially for our youth.
- Increased economic opportunity—Workforce development that includes local hires, support of new local businesses, and inclusion of our youth.
- Strengthened connections to the community—Increased civic participation and engagement, cultural preservation, and access to safe public spaces.
How we work
COO is driven by community-led strategies and solutions. Community members and leaders, organizations, and institutions share power, voice, and resources.
COO works to achieve more equitable community conditions through community partnerships in geographic and cultural communities, systems and policy change, and shared learning.
Geographic and cultural focus
Three locations are seeding the direction of this initiative. What these communities learn will be shared across King County.
Initial sites are Rainier Valley (HomeSight), Seatac/Tukwila (Global to Local) and White Center (White Center CDA). The $4,526,393 investments are supporting partnerships and aligning work for more than 70 organizations.
Future rounds of investments may include cultural communities and isolated rural communities with disparities in health and well-being.
Policies and systems change
Policies and systems play an essential role in equity.
Affordable housing, local employment, and quality education should be attainable regardless of our race, ethnicity, income, or where we live. Yet our institutions and policies shape who has access to wealth, health, and prosperity.
In October 2014, Seattle Foundation and King County announced a first round of investments. More than $915,000 in grants were awarded to 12 organizations.
What started in 2014 as an idea has grown to more than 100 organizations partnering together, with the voices of hundreds of community members guiding the way.
In the coming years, we’ll expand our web of organizations, people, and relationships to accelerate change through a learning network where communities incubate, exchange, and realize their ideas.
How we started
COO started as an innovative partnership in 2014 between King County and Seattle Foundation based on the research that where a child grows up—the community in which they live—greatly impacts their health and well-being. This unique public-private and community-based partnership allows us to achieve greater impact and broader system change than if we approached the work in independent silos.
Communities of Opportunity is supported through the Best Starts for Kids (BSK) levy and Seattle Foundation's Center for Community Partnerships.
The Communities of Opportunity initiative is one of many funding opportunities King County will be providing through the Best Starts for Kids (BSK) initiative. The Best Starts for Kids levy dedicates 10 percent of proceeds, approximately $37 million over the life of the 6-year levy. COO is part of BSK's vision that communities offer safe, welcoming and healthy environments that help improve outcomes for all of King County's children and families regardless of where they live.
The values of equity and opportunity are the central principles guiding Seattle Foundation's mission. The Center for Community Partnerships was founded to focus directly on targeted efforts to achieve greater racial and economic equity. Understanding that social problems are products of networks of cause and effect at a policy level, the Center focuses on advancing systems change as the most effective way to advance this goal. Seattle Foundation's current initiatives—Communities of Opportunity, Vibrant Democracy Initiative and Neighbor to Neighbor - together create a holistic approach to community-engaged systems and policy change.
For more information, contact Andrea Akita, COO Executive Director at Andrea.Akita@kingcounty.gov